GOP: Federal Spending Doesn't Create Jobs (Except When It Goes To Defense Contractors)
Ramesh Ponnuru nails some Republicans for their hypocritical arguments about federal spending. He points out that a Romney press release last week quoted Bill Bolling, the Republican lieutenant governor of Virginia, attacking President Obama for cutting defense too much:
“We are very concerned about the impact that sequestration could have on Virginia’s economy,” Bolling said in the statement. He added, “It could also deliver a devastating blow to the private-sector defense contractors who make up a big part of Virginia’s economy, especially in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. This is just another example of how the president’s approach to running the country is jeopardizing our economic viability.”
The same day, the state’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, made the same point in his own statement for the Romney campaign. And the campaign hosted a conference call where Representative Randy Forbes, a Virginia Republican, said, “If you look at it from an economic point of view, this is something that is going to have an enormous, devastating blow on Virginia, especially in northern Virginia and in the Hampton Roads area.” There would be “a huge impact on beauty salons, restaurants, car dealers, the entire economy.”
It's true, Virginia's economy might get hurt. Since, you know, it is the top recipient of federal defense dollars. This whole area is just a big federal gravy train. Most of the people we know work for the federal government or for contractors. The economy is artificially propped up thanks to the rest of the country's tax dollars. And it's going so well, in fact, that we can't afford to buy a house without increasing our daily commutes by hours.
Ramesh points out that all sorts of Republicans, including House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, Senator John McCain and Senator John Cornyn, have made these types of economic arguments in favor of defense spending. But other recipients of federal funds are just as likely to spend money on beauty salons, restaurants, and car dealers as defense contractors, no?
Could a federal budget ever be cut if the impact on beauty salons, restaurants and car dealers is the metric we go by? Ponnuru writes:
Reductions in federal spending, whether for defense or social programs, will, of course, be disruptive to the people, businesses and communities who have come to rely on it. The cuts should not, however, hurt the broader economy. When federal spending falls and jobs tied to that spending disappear, private-sector spending should normally increase and create jobs tied to it.
He ends his piece by reminding Republicans to stick to defensible arguments:
The Republicans resisting big defense cuts generally think that they would jeopardize our national security. That’s a debatable proposition. So debate it. What Republicans should not do is make an economic argument for defense spending that is both untrue and inconsistent with everything else they say about spending and the economy.
When they do that, they treat the nation’s defense as little more than a source of political pork.
Amen! And I'd add that their decision to go for economic arguments in support of bloated Defense budgets undercuts any other arguments that they may want to put forth.